Thunderhill 25 Hour Race Notes: Johnny Kanavas
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The 2006 25-Hours of Thunderhill, hyeeld Dec. 1-3, was a true test of endurance for the #19 Hoover Motorsports/Mazda MX-5 team. The team, owned by Jason Hoover, consisted of drivers, Johnny Kanavas, Matt Cross, Sammy Valafar, Mark Powell, and Andrew Caddell annaged by Team Manager, Tony Silva.

After a full day of practice, rotating each driver through the car, Matt Cross took the car out for the Friday evening qualifying session and put the car in the 2nd starting position, just behind the #22 MX-5 Cup car entered by the MER/Mazdaspeed team. At the end of the day the team was confident and ready for the 25-hour endurance test.

Saturday morning brought the best weather to date for the start of the 25. Driver schedule was Andrew Caddell, Sammy Valafar, Mark Powell, Johnny Kanavas, Matt Cross. As the team did the obligatory team photos, with the car lined up on the front straight, everyone was treated to an aerobatic flying demonstration, along with a fly-over by a trio of U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagles. Caddell was now belted in and ready to take the green flag. Andrew ran a stellar first stint, staying out of trouble while running a conservative, yet quick pace and bringing the car back home in 3rd place, just behind two of the MER/Mazdaspeed MX-5's. Andrew handed the car over to Valafar, followed by Mark Powell for two clean and consistent stints. The Hoover Motorsports team was now leading the E1 class, sitting 8th overall. Two of the MER cars ran into differential problems forcing them to make extended pitstops for repairs.

Johnny Kanavas took over from Powell at about the 5-hour mark. The tires were pretty much toast when I got into the car. There was plenty of rubber, but they felt very greasy. I just adapted and drove it at a comfortable pace., reported Kanavas. There was one full-course-yellow during this period for some cars that had gone off track. Johnny, asked to back off a bit and run a conservative pace, dealt with the ill-handling car and brought it in with a 5-lap lead in the E1 class. Matt Cross was up next for the first round of single-stints and went out on a new set of Hoosier tires. Six laps into Matt's first stint, he comes over the radio to report the loss of the left rear wheel. The team immediately went to work once the car was towed in. A rear hub had failed, shearing at the end of the half shaft. The team gathered new parts and went to work replacing the left rear half shaft, upright, hub, and brake caliper. Bleeding the Brakes and making a slight chassis adjustment, the car lost about 51 minutes with the tow and fixes, before it hit the track again, with Cross back behind the wheel.
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